Labour’s electorate vote

One of the most paradoxical things to come out of the 2011 general election was that while Labour’s share of the party vote was decimated (down to 27.1%  – or a 6.9% swing against), a reasonable number of their electorate candidates managed to substantially increase their majorities.

Electorate Candidate Percentage swing to Labour
Mangare Sua William Sio 20.7
Rimutaka Chris Hipkins 11.3
Wellington Central Grant Robertson 7.1
Tamaki Makaurau Shane Jones 6.8
Manukau East Ross Robertson 6.7
Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis 6.5
Napier Stuart Nash 6.4
Ikaroa-Rawhiti Parekura Horomia 6.4
Manurewa Louisa Wall 5.5
Auckland Central Jacinda Ardern 4.7

Firstly, congratulations to all those candidates who managed to hold their seats (if Brendon Burns holds Christchurch Central on specials, then Labour have only lost one electorate – Waimakariri –  despite a massive swing against them).

Also, before we go any further, it is worth noting that there are lots of variables at play. For example, the Te Tai Tokerau swing is against the 2008 general election result, not the very close 2011 by-election. So please take things with a grain of salt.

For me there are some pretty obvious insights that jump out of the raw numbers.

If you look at the three “M” seats, Mangare, Manukau East and Manurewa, Labour managed to significantly increase their share of the vote, despite the turnout being in line with the nation-wide trend. This has to be due to a combination of factors working in Labour’s favour:

  • The absence of Taito Phillip Field. In 2008, despite being booted out of Labour and facing corruption charges, he stood against Sua William Sio, and his Pacific Party stood candidates in the other “M” seats. They never had a chance of beating Labour, but they took a noticeable amount of the votes.
  • It’s possible that elements of Labour’s policy platform – $15 minimum wage and GST off fruit and veges – struck a chord in these electorates which have high levels of social deprivation. That said, if we’re going to make untested, sweeping generalisations we have to admit that the people at the bottom of the heap are also the ones most likely to be disconnected from the political process.

Another point to note is that three of the top 10 seats in terms of swing are Maori electorates. One of the two new seats Labour picked up was Te Tai Tonga. Their candidate, Rino Tirikatene, pushed hard on the line that Maori Party voters were dissatisfied with the deal with National. So hard, that on election night, even Tariana Turia was admitting it

“And it may well be … that they haven’t liked the relationship with National.”

The final point that jumps out is the fact that Labour obviously has some decent campaigners. Everyone on this list has done well (and to be fair, there are also another dozen or so candidates who have pulled in very respectable results). Robertson, Hipkins, Nash and Ardern all ran excellent campaigns. It really shows that one of Labour’s greatest losses on election night was Stuart Nash. I personally hope he sticks with it – victory in Napier is well within his grasp for 2014.

There are of course massive issues with the party vote, and turnout generally. I’ll save those for another day!

7 thoughts on “Labour’s electorate vote”

  1. I never know what to think of Tariana. Sometimes she can be quite honest and frank with what she says is on her mind, as in the linked Herald article. Other times she’s really vague. Can’t wait to see what happens when her and Pita retire.

    1. I’ve never met her, so my knowledge is drawn almost entirely from what I’ve seen in the (mainstream) media.

      The one thing that really strikes me is her complete and utter hatred for the Labour Party. It seems to be her sole raison d’être. That can’t be healthy.

      The future of the Maori Party is a pretty interesting subject, I’ll try and get some thoughts together on it over the next few days.

    1. Whoops – well spotted. I’ll update the blog.

      Just on Waimak though, it’s an interesting case as the Labour, National and Green candidates all increased their share of the vote. The minor party vote totally collapsed in this electorate. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the specials (my pick is Clayton will close the gap, but not quite enough to win).

  2. One of the key factors Rino Tirikatene won the seat was because Green candidate, Dora Langsbury, took a big percentage of Rahui Katene’s vote, about 5%. There was a big swing in votes from the Maori Party to the Greens across the Maori electorates.

    However, in my view Rino was actually one of the weaker candidates in the electorate, and while I am by no means a fan of Rahui or the Maori Party arrangments with National, I think she may have deserved the seat more than Rino.

    Having said that it’s good the left picked up the seat.

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